Recent comments

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 20 hours ago

    Your closing observation - getting rid of anonymity would be a major step backwards in freedom of expression -  hits the nail on the head (well, if not THE nail, then at least my nail).

    How free are we need to hide behind a curtain to say who we are or what we believe? I am not talking about doing what we want, simply thinking out loud, expressing an idea.

    My views are shaped in part by my career in local government, where every idea you throw out, every thought you express, is open to public review, evaluation, and critique. You reflect on the response, you debate, you reconsider, and eventually you firm up your position. Take it or leave it, but this is what I believe.

    Voting is an interesting example. While citizens cast their ballot in secret, votes by councils are open (with few exceptions allowed by law). I remember in my home country, in small communities where it was physically possible, citizens would meet on a Sunday to vote on referendums in open assemblies (Landsgemeinde). You stand there, next to all other citizens in the community, you raise your hand to have your vote counted. Win or lose, everybody knows where I stand.

    There is a cultural aspect to all of that. And maybe it is my background which leads me to have greater respect for those who stand behind who they are and what they say. There are many controversial and difficult topics addressed on my bookshelves, not one of them published by Anonymous.

     

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 1 day ago

    I wonder if people that think people should sign their comments with real names also think that voting shouldn't be anonymous. After all, voting is the ultimate form of commenting on our government/prospective government in a democracy, yet individual voting is done anonymously

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 1 day ago

    Andre, your comment hit the nail square on the head.  I too  have a problem with people who post a strong or insulting comment about an individual, or local citizen on a publically read source; then, hide their identity behind a pseudonym.

    If the author of the comment is big enough insult someone on a public platform then that person should also be big enough to bare their true identity.

    Les

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 1 day ago

    Adrian, those little thumbs icons are an indication of how people agree or disagree with a posted comment on your discussion board.  To remove, manipulate or suppress those little thumbs would be a clear step in the direction of censorship.  When a person posts  a comment on a public forum or discussion board, that person should not have the right to ban or censor a replying comment because that person can not handle someone disagreeing with him or her.  “That is censoeship, no matter how you dress up the action.  We are seeing enough of that on the CBC’s discussion boards.

    A public debate is just that, a public debate between two opposing sides.  Adrian, you and I have had strenuous debates on the discussion board and I welcomed your opposing views (though you were wrong of course).  It never entered my mind to shut out your comments or insult you on a public forum because your views on a matter did not agree with mine.  This country was built on debating and opposing ideas.

    It does not take anymore than a few sentences to understand which political party (persuasion) you favour.  I am a middle of the road person where I will, without hesitation, call a spade a spade no matter which political party or individual I am calling to task.  Censoring my opinion would be a violation under the Canadian Charter Of freedom Of Speech and Right to Protest.

    I have previously offered to meet or gather at the Rossland seniors hall to openly debate any matter that I comment on in your news paper’s discussion board.  I most certainly would not lock the doors to anyone who I knew would be disagreeing with me.   If I am big enough to open my mouth on a public stage to oppose some, I have no problem with allowing someone to stand up and call me out. 

    You as a reporter know and understand the importance of “Freedom Of The Press”: now you must accept and realize the importance of freedom of speech and opinion that has been afforded to the citizens of this country and your readers.

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 1 day ago

    Our democracy IS in a poor state, but that's a different story. This is about freedom of expression, and the variety in views it engenders.

    There are good reasons why someone wouldn't post using a real name about their experience growing up gay in the Kootenays, even in today's relatively accepting world.  If you think there are no social repercussions to that, you are sadly out of touch with reality here. So we would lose that point of view. Ditto stories about bullying, or perhaps experiences with rape or molestation.  Can it lead to malicious accusations? For sure, but in that respect a single anonymous accusation isn't going to bear much weight. But if it's real, it could lead others to realize they aren't the only victims, and could embolden others to come forward with their stories, and perhaps some to approach the proper authorities.

    But it need not be about such personal subjects. Even such things as politcal affiliations cause people to self-censure in certain instances. If you live and work in a place where there is a strong political leaning, people are less likely to be vocal in expressing a dissenting point of view. This isn't necessarily a reflection on the state of democracy, but on human nature. In the past, only a very few people ever had the temperament, or the social standing, to really speak their mind freely.  People are emboldened to speak to an audience that will agree with them, and reticent to speak about something that will be less enthusiastically received or even potentially ridiculed. The anonymity of the internet changed that.

    I would go so far as to say that the general anonymity of the internet has generated an explosion in variety of opinions, points of view, and very personal stories that the public has been exposed to like never before in history. And it has probably played a pivotal role in making us a more open and accepting society.

    Your example of a European paper's comment section is all well and good, but it very limiting.  I don't know how effective the "checking" of identify is in preventing misrepresentation, but if it is, by its very nature it would limit discourse to a very few comments that the paper has the ability to verify. So what you see is not open and free discourse. It is heavily editorialized comments, in style, in length, in subject matter, and in opinion. The editors aren't going to print what they don't want to see in print. That's fine, the internet is big enough for both open comment format media, and those types of heavily curated ones.

    Getting rid of anonymity would be a major step backwards in freedom of expression, and undo much of the societal benefits imparted on us by the internet.

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 3 days ago

    Valid points, Phil, but in part at least a sad commentary on state of our society. If we fear to state our belief, our freedom is reduced to Wal-Mart value. There are many countries, many societies, where such fear is justified. I would not want to pontificate too much in Zimbabwe (been there, done that) or in Egypt, to say nothing of North Korea.

    But here, in Canada? I don't know what is worse, fear of repercussions real or imagined. It is one thing to lock your door at night, it is an altogether different thing to fear stating a point of view, be that on a political religious, social, environmental, or any other subject.

    I have no clue at all how the technology works, and I have no interest at all in even attempting to figure it out. What I do know, from commenting in European papers (e.g. http://www.bernerzeitung.ch/) that anyone wishing to comment has to register with full name and address. When I post a comment in that paper, I register with my name, my complete Canadian address, including postal code. The comments are not posted until verified by editorial staff, and when it is posted it is under full first and last name. The address is withheld. The editorial review serves to maintain comments to the paper's standards. In other words, a comment that a reporter would not be permitted to print (e.g., the Prime Minister is an ....) is not accepted in the comments section either. More or less the same rules are applied to the comments section as are applied to letters to the editor section.

    There are plenty of stupid and ignorant comments in papers such as the Globe & Mail, and they contribute nothing at all to the story. More often than not scrolling through them is a waste of time.

    So, in summary, Phil, your argument in support of anonymity is a concern. And if fear of reprocussion is why so many use a pseudonym, our democracy is in worse shape than I thought it to be.

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 3 days ago

    There are a few problems with getting rid of anonymity on the web. First off, a technical one: if people sign with full names, how do you verify that they are who they claim to be? That can quickly become a headache for the website operator, and possibly a liability. Second is a question of trust. Because a username is also used to login to the website, that information is now part of the database, to be used or abused by all the people who have access to it, be it owners, technical staff, or even the operators of the remote servers which may get used, or malicious hackers.

    Anonymity also provides a way to comment without fear of repercussions. That's important to a lot of people who might otherwise be afraid to speak up. These repercussions might be anything from social ostracism, to actual violence, and they may be real, well founded fears, or simply perceived. Either way, you would lose a lot of points of view.  It's true anonymity also allows people to bully or just be mean and hide behind a pseudonym, but that's a small price to pay for greater diversity in opinions. And such people are easily dismissed, even more so by websites that allow users to hide comments from people they find offensive.

    Personally, I don't value a comment more or less if it is signed with a real name or not - I value it based on the merits of the argument made in the expression of opinion.  Knowing a name is also not the same as knowing the person. To me, the only value of using real names is having the opportunity to continue a conversation face to face with some people, which is why I use an abbreviated version of my name, enough for people who know me to figure out who I am.

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 3 days ago

    And so, probably inevitably, we move toward a discussion of anonymity on the web. While I wish we lived in a world where citizens would proudly sign their names to all their comments, we simply don't. And so the choice is between almost no comments and the option of anonymous comments. It's as simple as that, I'm afraid. Don't believe us? Ask the New York Times...

    That said, I do think that signed comments carry more weight in the eyes of  our readership than anonymous ones. When I read an anonymous post, especially a negative or critical one, I take the thoughts of 'pieman' or 'ski4life' less seriously than ones with names of actual human beings attached.

    Finally, the only 'serious' argument I know of that supports anonymity is the 'coffee shop' one that argues comments are not 'published' in the same sense that articles or comment pieces are. Rather, they are more like spoken opinions made in public. So if you're in the Grind and some stranger at the next table is going on about how Lone Sheep is an exclusionary monoculture, you would tend to evaluate their words by their innate sense (or lack thereof) rather than by the person's reputation. That's not such a bad thing when you stop to think about it. In fact, when I read the opinions of people I know and respect I'm very likely prejudiced in their favour.

    Can we argue that, if nothing else, anonymous comments allow us to hear arguments more objectively? Certainly, this would be the case if we required that ALL our commenters used pseudonyms! (Not that we're planning on doing that...).

    And as for thumbs...I agree with Andre that they're pretty silly.--ed.

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 4 days ago

    Why not eliminate those thumbs altogether?

    Thumbs contribute little, if anything, to any debate. About as constructive as those standing ovations by loyal party members in the House of Commons when their leader asks a questions or responds to one.

    If we are going to have a serious conversation on any subject, from taxes to plugged sewers to climate change, we should be able to do so by identifying ourselves and stating an opinion or point of view.

    We are not in North Korea, and we should therefore not only expect, but accept (and be bloody well grateful) that the range of opinions, views, and beliefs out there is wide and varied.

    The internet is a tool to facilitate conversation, not to trivialize it.

    When we meet face to face, the first thing we do - if we want to engage in a conversation - is to introduce ourselves. "Hi, my name is ..."

    Imagine a face-to-face debate where participants are few, and most of those who do hide behind a pseudonym while the rest silently nod their heads, up and down to agree (thumbs up), left and right to disagree (thumbs down).

    The internet is a tool we could use to facilitate and enrich conversation and debate. Instead to many of us use it to trivialize debate by reducing it to anonymous babble.

    (And if anyone touches a thumbs button in response to this, I'll pout and refuse to submit any comments to this paper until next time.)

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 4 days ago

    Having an opinion isn't the same as demonizing those with whom one disagrees. In fact, having an opinion, by definition means disagreeing with other opinions! How do we disrespect others' points of view by sharing our own?

    I have no idea why you think we reject diversity. If you'd like to write something in support of your own views, please feel free. If it's well-written we'll publish it. In fact, we've put the word out a number of times over the years seeking contributions from people of ANY political persuasion, but we haven't yet had any luck finding, let's say, a Conservative supporter who wants to share their views in our Comments sections. I'd like nothing better than some intelligent sparring with different perspectives.

    As for the political party 'we' support, I can't speak for other contributors and editors but I have no idea which one you're thinking of!

    Sorry you're offended, Viirga. Consider joing the conversation instead. You'd be welcome.--ed.

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 4 days ago

    What a mystery! How could people thumbs down the opinion of Lonesheep Publishing!?

    Is it because the political biase in all the Lonesheep epapers are decidedly in favour of one point of view and to one political party? With news stories and editorials that source single points of view?

    Or maybe the thumbs are response to the disrespect of other points of view? Why do you suppose it is necessary to demonize those that don't share Lonesheep's opinions? 

    In your democracy there really is no room for diversity is there?

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 4 days ago

    The thumbs up and thumbs down are a constant source of mystery to us here at Telegraph HQ. Even when we post stories with no controversy at all we get a healthy number of thumbs down!  What does this mean? I have no idea!

    With regard to the current piece by Mr. Dobbin, it's fair to say that anyone who supports either Harper or Trudeau would disagree with my comments--and a fair number of Canadians still cling to the belief that voting is something more than a badly-acted piece of theatre. What I think is more interesting is that fully half the readers who bother to show a preference agree that radical change is needed! I take this  as a very healthy sign. A 'glass is half full' rather than half empty situation, perhaps!

    To me it shows that, as a society, we're at least beginning to engage the idea that  it's not business as usual out there and that our 'democracy' is failing, increasingly, to even maintain the veneer of functionality. One can only hope that this also points toward the possibility of real change.

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   35 weeks 5 days ago

    Don't know why there are so many obviously blind people turning thumbs down on this reply. They don't know what a true democracy is or they would see that the only time we have a say is when we vote. ENOUGH SAID

  • COMMENT: MP says safer rail means safer communities   35 weeks 5 days ago

    What more can be expected when companies are privatized they are only interested in making money safety is on the back burner. And now they want to privatize postal services. It is time to take back our Canada that the Political cronies have sold out from under Canadians. That means our forests and what is under the ground as well.

  • LETTER: Water Meter Extortion?   35 weeks 5 days ago

    The citizens of Grand Forks have the opportunity to put this whole water metering fiasco on hold in November, during the municipal elections.  Simply vote for candidates opposed to forcing water meters down our throats, thus changing the make up of our city council.  Pretty simple eh

  • LETTER: Water Meter Extortion?   35 weeks 6 days ago
    Couldn't agree with you more, Donna. There is absolutely nothing voluntary or democratic about this business!
  • CONTEST: April 2014 -- Wildways Bike Tune-up   35 weeks 6 days ago

    My bike could use a tune-up!

    :)

  • CONTEST: April 2014 -- Wildways Bike Tune-up   36 weeks 1 day ago

    Want to ride from Pualson to Castlegar, along the Columbia and Western, but the  bike gears won't let me do this without a fix.

     

  • CONTEST: April 2014 -- Wildways Bike Tune-up   36 weeks 2 days ago

    Just spinning my wheels until I can get out riding again.  So much fun riding with the kids.

     

  • Taylor says humane society is needed in GF   36 weeks 3 days ago

    It seems like Brian wants to get rid of the BC Corps of Commissionaires that currently take care of animal control in the area.  This appears to be a personal objective as I believe that Brian does not like the contract. I believe that the current animal control officers are doing a great job. As to feral cats, that needs to be addressed in the by-laws and to the best my knowledge has not been done yet. Yes I may be biased as I work for the Commissionaires but not in an Animal Control position but rather as a Detentention Guard under contract to the local RCMP taking care of their cell block.

  • Tracy goes on a mad shopping spree   36 weeks 3 days ago

    Good job Les, love the music...goes together perfect!!  Shara, I think these contests are a great way to promote businesses in Grand Forks.  Thank you for taking the time to put them on via Boundary Sentinel!!

  • CONTEST: April 2014 -- Wildways Bike Tune-up   36 weeks 5 days ago

    It would take more than a bike tuneup to enable me to ride from Grand Forks to Christina Lake... LOL!

  • Harper’s (Un)Fair Elections Act Could Spark Voter Surge   36 weeks 5 days ago

    Two questions arise for me. 1. Will this scandal make Canadians care more about how they are governed? 2. If so, will it make a difference to the outcome of the next federal election?

    The answer to both questions is very likely to be 'no'. Harper and his ilk (I put Justin Trudeau and company in the same category) care only about keeping/getting power. Our leaders have no interest in democracy. Neither do the great majority of the people.

    What will make people get interested? Only the realization that the current trend will, soon enough, hurt them and their children.

    All the warning signs of impending catastrophe are clearly visible and well-documented. But it hasn't hit home yet. The danger is that, by the time we realize what's going on, it will be too late.

  • Q & A — The Grand Forks Water Meter Plan   37 weeks 18 hours ago

    Everyone needs to stand together on this and say NO.  If EVERYONE does this, then maybe, just maybe we will be able to stop this nonsense.

  • Court injunction gives hope to those who need medicinal weed   37 weeks 1 day ago

    It is because Canada is a backwards country. Canada is being run by the US equivalent of Sarah Palin and American Tea Party. The only more right wing country in the world is now Israel. Canada is making pot laws more harsh while the rest of the world moves the opposite direction. It's been a decade since Portugal legalized all drugs and the US is legalizing pot. Meanwhile backwards moving Canada makes minimum sentences and makes it harder to get medicinal pot. This country is going downhill and I am embarrassed to be a Canadian today.